BAFTA and Netflix have raised the curtain on the 2019 class of Breakthrough Brits. The 20-strong cohort, spanning talent from film, TV and games, includes “Sex Education” writer Laurie Nunn, “The Virtues” actress Niamh Algar, “Chernobyl” production designer Luke Hull, and “Saint Maud” director Rose Glass.
The Breakthrough scheme has been run by BAFTA since 2013; this year is the first that the initiative has also had the backing of Netflix. The Breakthrough Brits receive mentoring and networking opportunities as well as entry to BAFTA events. Previous honorees include actors Florence Pugh and Josh O’Connor and director Michael Pearce.
Nunn, who has just seen the second season of Netflix’s “Sex Education” finish shooting, told Variety that being chosen was a sign that her career is on the right track and a moment to reflect on a busy past few years as well on what happens next.
She said she has fleshed out ideas for a possible third season of “Sex Education,” with a green light dependent upon the reception for the upcoming Season 2. “I’d like to see the characters through high school, but not into university,” she said. “That’s where teen series go wrong.”
Irish actress Algar told Variety that, when she moved to London, working with filmmaker Shane Meadows was an ambition – one she achieved with “The Virtues.” In a whirlwind year, she has also been in Michael Fassbender-produced Toronto title “Calm With Horses,” from first-time feature director Nick Rowland, and in Desiree Akhavan’s “The Bisexual.”
She also starred in “Pure,” which was written by Kirstie Swain, another of the 2019 Breakthrough class. Independent film producers Sarah Brocklehurst (“Animals”) and Oliver Kassman (“Saint Maud”) are also on the roster, as is Rose Glass, who helmed Film4-backed “Saint Maud,” which Variety described as a “sensational, shape shifting debut.”
Getting indie movies made is tough, but Glass told Variety that she is working with Kassman on a new project and, “in an ideal world,” wants to “keep making films.”
Established stars such as Oscar-winner Olivia Colman, Brad Pitt and Barry Jenkins have lent support to the Breakthrough Brits program. The jury this year included actors Joe Cole and Bertie Carvel.
“It’s an exciting time in global film, games and television, with so much opportunity, but it can also be daunting for those trying to break into the industry,” Cole said. The Breakthrough Brits offers “invaluable support, guidance and mentoring,” he added.
BAFTA chief Amanda Berry spoke about Netflix’s involvement for the first time, saying that the U.S. streamer shares “our vision to celebrate emerging British talent and provide them with the tools to develop their skills at this pivotal moment in their careers.”
BAFTA Breakthrough Brits 2019